I am a college student at York College of PA in central Pennsylvania, not far from the Maryland border. I am currently working at the college for the summer, and yesterday I saw something very strange when I was outside on my lunch break. Two moths like none I’ve ever seen before were just sitting around on the concrete right near each other, but they were two very different-looking species. They were about the same size (two inches across), but one was white with black spots and the other was army green with orange on the insides of his wings. I was worried about them, so I tried to move them into the grass for safety’s sake. The white and black moth went into the grass willingly, but the green one flew around and I didn’t try to catch it. Today I ate my lunch in the same spot, and although the white and black moth was gone, the green one was still around- all day. Today after work, I gently packaged him up and brought him home so I could take some pictures, which I have sent to you.
I am worried about the green moth. He’s been very lethargic, even when I was handling him, and he is currently downstairs on my porch in the same spot I placed him when I brought him home. I wish I could have gotten a picture of the other moth. He looked very similar to the Eyed Tiger Moth on your site… I’m about 75% sure that’s what he was. However, isn’t it strange to see one in central Pennsylvania? Anyway, this brings me to my two big questions. First, can you tell me what type of moth is in the pictures I have sent you? I can’t seem to figure it out and I’ve looked everywhere. Second, and more importantly, do you have any idea what these two little guys would be doing hanging out TOGETHER on pavement in the middle of the day in central PA? It just seemed so strange and unnatural to see them in this way. Is it common to see something like this, or could they have been, like, specimens that escaped from somewhere?
Your letter is so sweet. First question is your olive drab moth. It is an Azalea Sphinx, Darapsa pholus, and is quite common in Pennsylvania. The caterpillar feeds on viburnum and azalea. Regarding the other moth. It sounds like some type of Tiger Moth. The Eyed Tiger Moth, Ecpantheria deflorata, is rare in New England, but ranges south from there. It is common in the Carolinas. Pennsylvania is part of their normal range. The two moths may have been attracted to a nearby light and just found themselves on the sidewalk at dawn. Moths are not long lived, and your Azalea Sphinx may have just been nearing the end of a long, for an insect, life.
Thank you so much! Good news about greenie though- he was flying around last night and I hope to see him gone this morning.